Traditionally, dwellings in the valley were built using a timber frame structure. These structures were built using locally available timber species.
The timber was treated in a traditional way by immersing it in water for few days. After sun drying for one season, it was used for construction.
Some of these timber frame structures are still intact despite of extreme weather conditions of Western Ghats.
While there are no large specimens available except in sacred groves now due to unsustainable harvesting, there is an opportunity to gift these wonderful trees to our next generations.
It is worth noting that these trees provide multiple services before they fall.
Terminalia Elliptica (आईन)
It is a tree growing to 30 m tall, with a trunk diameter of 1m. The bark is fire-resistant. The wood is coarse, fairly straight grained, dull to somewhat lustrous. The heartwood varies from light brown with few markings to dark brown or brownish black and figured with darker streaks. The sapwood is reddish white and sharply differentiated.
The wood is hard & used for furniture, cabinetwork, joinery, paneling, specialty items, boat-building, railroad cross-ties (treated), decorative veneers and for musical instruments (e.g. for guitar fretboard).
In the valley, it is one of the most sought after timber for structural elements like columns, beams.
Terminalia Chebula (हिरडा)
Terminalia chebula is a medium to large deciduous tree growing to 30 m (98 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) in diameter.
Apart from its fruits having importance in Ayurveda, it’s wood is sought after in the valley for its strength.
The heartwood is usually quite small, it is dark brown to reddish-brown; it is sharply differentiated from the spawood, which is yellowish-grey to grey, sometimes with a greenish tinge. Texture is medium to fine; the grain interlocked, sometimes curly. The wood is very hard; heavy to very heavy; strong and tough; not durable unless under cover. It is very difficult to saw, to season and to work. It is used as construction timber and for furniture, carts and implements.
Artocarpus heterophyllus (Jackfruit / फणस)
Evergreen tree that grows up to 20m & with one of the most beautiful timber.
The golden yellow timber with good grain is used for building furniture and house construction. It is termite-resistant and is superior to teak for building furniture. Jackfruit wood is widely used in the manufacture of furniture, doors and windows, in roof construction, and fish sauce barrels.
The wood of the tree is used for the production of musical instruments. In Indonesia, hardwood from the trunk is carved out to form the barrels of drums used in the gamelan, and in the Philippines, its soft wood is made into the body of the kutiyapi, a type of boat lute. It is also used to make the body of the Indian string instrument veena and the drums mridangam, thimila, and kanjira.
In the valley, it is used as beams, columns. Also, used to make door frames with carvings.
Terminalia Bellirica (बेहडा)
Behda is a large, fast-growing deciduous tree with a large, globose crown; it can grow up to 50 metres tall. The buttressed bole usually has a diameter of up to 200cm, though exceptionally to 300cm, and can be branchless for up to 20 metres.
The timber is yellowish-grey, lacking heartwood, light to moderately heavy, fairly straight-grained, very coarse-textured. It’s used as planks, mostly.
Mitragyna parvifolia (कणम)
M. parvifolia reaches heights of 50 feet with a branch spread over 15 feet.
The light pinkish-brown wood is even-grained, moderately hard and durable if not exposed to the wet. It is easily worked and polishes well. A useful wood, esteemed for many purposes, it is used in construction, furniture making, agricultural implements, combs, cups, spoons, plates and for turned and carved articles.
Locally, used in temples & where wood carving is desired.
Terminalia paniculata (किंजळ)
Terminalia paniculata is a semievergreen tree growing up to 33 metres tall.
The heartwood is dark grey, the sapwood a lighter grey. The wood is very hard. The wood is improved by being kept under water. It makes good planks and is used for agricultural implements. The wood is very useful for ship building and is used as substitute for teak.
Bridelia retusa (असणा)
Bridelia retusa is a deciduous, large shrub or tree, usually growing up to 10 metres tall but occasionally to 20 metres. The bole is up to 30cm in diameter.
The dull red wood is close-grained, moderately hard to hard. The wood is of good quality and colour, it is used for construction, railway ties, rafters, posts, and floor-boards; also used for cart-shafts, wheels and agricultural implements. It is suitable for tool-handles and helves.
Locally, it is preferred for roof battens.
Caryota Urens (माड)
Caryota urens species is a solitary-trunked tree that measure up to 15 m (49 ft) in height and up to 30 cm (12 in) wide.
The mature wood in the outer portion of the stem is strong, heavy and durable. The stem yields an inferior timber sometimes used for construction purposes, especially in traditional buildings, for purposes such as planking, flooring, rafters, roofing, partitioning and fencing, and also for making spears. The stem, cut lengthways in half with its centre scooped out, is used for gutters and drains, or to convey water over long distances. Polished stems are used as monoliths in modern houses.
Locally, an outer part of the trunk is preferred for roof battens.
Melia Dubia (लिंबारा)
Melia Dubia is a large tree, attaining a height of 20 meters with a spreading crown and a cylindrical straight trunk of 9 meters length X 1.2-1.5 m. girth.
It is a good secondary timber and the most preferred species for plywood industry. The wood is also used for packing cases, ceiling planks, building purposes, agricultural implements, pencils, match boxes, splints, cattamarans, musical instruments and tea boxes as the wood is anti-termite by itself.
Locally, used for door & window frames, furnitures.
Gmelina arborea (शिवण)
It’s a beautiful fast growing tree. The tree attains moderate to large height up to 30 m with girth of 1.2 to 4.5 m with a clear bole of 9-15 m.
The Gmelina arborea wood is used for pulp, particle board, plywood, matches, carpentry and packing. It is also used for construction at boards, carving and musical instruments.
Excellent description! Such a rich ecosystem! I wished the local youth can read about these tree species and value them.
Thanks a lot for this timber trees awareness.